When Twitter Goes Very Very Wrong: Kenneth Cole


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Twitter and other social media outlets have proved a huge boon for retailers. But sometimes, brands find that their social media efforts have gone dramatically wrong. Take a recent Kenneth Cole tweet that has attracted plenty of attention — but not the type the company was looking for.

Yesterday morning, Cole himself tweeted: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.” The tweet included a URL directing readers to Kenneth Cole’s e-commerce site. Seriously.

No surprise, masses of people took offense to his making light of the upheaval in Egypt that has led to multiple deaths and worldwide unease. A parody Kenneth Cole Twitter account soon sprung up, The New York Observer and AdAge rushed to cover the story, and Kenneth finally took to Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to mitigate the damage.

His official apology reads:

“I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.

Kenneth Cole, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer”

After a few hours, Cole finally removed the offending tweet.

Since then, Cole’s very public misstep has become a public joke on Twitter. The entire episode just goes to show that no matter how glib or casual tweets may be, people take their content very seriously. Twitter is a medium in which, for better or worse, reactions to your messages can spread incredibly far in a very short amount of time — which can mean victory, or disaster.


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